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Chef's Hat: Set it anf forget it

When you get a nice fall day, the last thing you want to do is to be standing around the kitchen cooking. We all know our nice days are numbered and there are always those few last chores to be done before the snow flies. And we all know it won’t be too much longer before you’ll need seven layers of clothing just to walk out the front door.

So now is definitely the time to get outside and enjoy all the great things that our area has to offer – even if it is just a drive around looking at the leaves. This past weekend Mother Nature sure seemed to be showing off. Just driving down my road the trees had exploded in an array of yellows, oranges and reds.

On a crisp fall day, there is nothing nicer, than to walk in a house and immediately be smacked in the face with the aroma of a roast simmering away in a crock pot. Slow cookers or crock pots or not quite something you set it and forget it, but they are fairly close.

You put in your ingredients, go off and enjoy the day and let the slow cooker take over. Before you go out to enjoy these last remaining warm days, take some time and throw a few ingredients into a slow cooker. You’ll come back to a house that smells great and a dinner that’s ready to put on the table.

Happy Eating!

Slow Cooker Beef Ribs

1 cup water

1/2 cup catsup

1/2 cup barbeque sauce

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 pounds beef back ribs (with or without bones)

Place short ribs into the slow cooker. Season with salt and pepper.  

In a large mixing cup or small bowl, stir together water, catsup, barbeque sauce, tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar and mustard. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Pour over the ribs.  

Set cooker to low, cover and cook for 8 hours, stirring the ribs every couple of hours just to make sure they are all well coated with the sauce. If desired, you can serve the meat over white or brown rice.

These ribs can be cooked the night before and then re-heated as they make excellent leftovers.

Slow-Cooked Whiskey-Molasses Shredded Beef

1 beef bottom round roast or beef chuck center roast (2 1/2 to 3 pounds), cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup whiskey

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

4 tablespoons packed brown sugar, divided

1/4 cup molasses

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 cups each shredded carrots and diced granny smith apple (to make a slaw to go with the roast)


Black pepper

Place the roast in a 4 1/2- to 5 1/2-quart slow cooker. Combine whiskey, 1/4 cup vinegar, tomato paste, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, molasses, salt and red pepper; pour over roast. Cover and cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 10 hours. Cook just until beef is fork tender.

Remove roast from slow cooker; shred with two forks. Skim fat from sauce as needed. Return beef to slow cooker and mix with juices in pan to keep the meat moist.

To make the slaw: Combine remaining 2 tablespoons cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and mustard in large bowl. Add carrots and apples; mix well. Season with salt and black pepper as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve beef with slaw.